Casper Reardon

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Although his name is unknown to most jazz listeners today, Casper Reardon has the distinction of being the first (and only significant male) jazz harpist (as opposed to harmonica player) in history, predating…
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Although his name is unknown to most jazz listeners today, Casper Reardon has the distinction of being the first (and only significant male) jazz harpist (as opposed to harmonica player) in history, predating the great Adele Girard.

Reardon, who graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, played classical music early on and throughout much of his career, including being in the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. However it was during his Cincinnati period that he began playing jazz on the radio, under the name of Arpeggio Glissandi! Reardon, whose initial records were as a pianist accompanying tap dancers, first appeared on record as a jazz harpist with Jack Teagarden in 1934. He guested with Paul Whiteman, the Casa Loma Orchestra and Abe Lyman, worked with Teagarden in the Three T's Band in 1936 and led his own groups in New York hotels before passing away when he was only 33. Casper Reardon recorded a dozen jazz-oriented selections as a leader during 1936-40, none of which were reissued on Lp or CD (so far).